Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Syttende Mai

We started the tradition years and years ago, and I'm happy to say that we are going strong almost 15 years later. I really find it hard to believe that there are things in my life that have been happening for more than 10 years, let alone 15.

It's the same feeling I get when I realize that I have known my bestie for 25 years. I know, I know. I was lucky at 5 years old to meet one of my closest friends.

Anyway. We started the tradition of celebrating Syttende Mai about 15 years ago.

Syttende Mai is Norway's Constitution Day. It falls on the 17th of May each year, and with it comes big celebrations. One of the main "attractions" for a Syttende Mai celebration in Norway is the parade. Each community has a parade of its own featuring flags, costumes, and marching bands. The biggest parade takes place each year in Oslo, with some 100,000 people attending (!). Each parade ends with the singing of Norway's national anthem.

Doesn't that sound awesome? We had a 4th of July parade where I grew up. I remember decorating our bikes and painting our faces to take part in the parade down Main Street. Those parades always gave a sense of American pride, as I'm sure the Syttende Mai parades do.

Our celebration, though, isn't so traditional.

We start our celebration with the same skit every year, performed by my younger brother and two younger cousins. They are the lucky boys that get to wear the plastic helmets show above.

It's amazing what twenty-something men will do for their 89 year old Grammy!

 At the beginning of this tradition, they would stand on my grandparents' toy chest and read from their script, so that the adults sitting at the dining room table could see and hear. Once the skit was complete, they'd be sent back to the kitchen to eat at the kids' table. Was it just my family, or did everyone want to stay at the kids' table as long as possible?

The grown ups all eat dinner and, as an after dinner (but pre-dessert) treat, tell jokes. My dear sweet grandmother is kind enough to search her Ole and Lena joke books and print off the most appropriate ones to share around the table. After each joke, we sip aquavit from a shot glass and wash it down with dark beer. I'm now learning, though, that purists don't agree with this practice. I'll have to let my grandma know we've been doing it backwards all these years!

Every May 17th, I am reminded that my dear sweet Boppa was half Norwegian. Both of his parents came to the US as teenagers and settled in Minneapolis. When they met, language was their only common bond. Neither knew English. Their Norwegian heritage is what brought them together.

My grandpa has passed on; we just recently celebrated the 2nd anniversary of his death, but the tradition of Syttende Mai continues. Every year, we will gather in my grandmother's dining room and raise our glasses, both in memory of Boppa and in celebration of our Norwegian ancestry.

And when we're lucky, we are graced with the presence of Minnesota's state bird.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

::Dinner Plans #18::

I didn't go grocery shopping last weekend, and because of that I have spent so much money.

As I've mentioned before, I shop at Aldi. Because of this, I save a ton of money every week. Unfortunately, there is not an Aldi close to my house. It's not a place I can just "swing by." If there is a week that I didn't my weekend Aldi trip didn't happen, I often stop at Target.

Target, the wonderful money-sucking store just down the street.

Seriously, can you leave Target empty-handed? Do you ever leave with only the items you went in for? I always seem to find something that I don't need.

I'm planning ahead this week. I wrote out my list Friday night (I know, my life is so awesome!). I even checked it twice, and made sure to look in the pantry so I didn't double up on items.

And, I am so excited to tell you that I am 100% prepared for all of the meals on my menu this week!

Sunday: We have our annual Syttende Mai celebration at my grandma's house and will be having dinner with everyone there.

Monday: Taco Casserole. The hubs has been requesting this meal for awhile now. I wish there was a way to make it paleo and still have him like it. wheels are turning, and I may be experimenting in the near future.

Tuesday: Working late, again. It's the last Tuesday that I need to be working late, so that is kind of nice. Kid will have dinner with my parents again.

Wednesday: Seared chicken thighs, cauliflower puree, and roasted carrots. Oh, roasted carrots. I'm so excited!

Thursday: Garlic Pepper Venison. We haven't had venison in quite a while, so this will definitely be a treat.

Friday: Beef, Mushroom, & Broccoli Slaw Lettuce Cups. These are SO good. So good I capitalized the whole word (all of its 2 letters. That's right).

Saturday: Creamy Chicken Mushroom & Roasted Cauliflower Soup. This is another one of those meals that is just plain delicious. And filling. And, it has mushrooms. I love mushrooms. Did I mention that it is delicious?

Jessica Lynn Writes

Friday, May 16, 2014

My First VoxBox

Do you all use Influenster, and am I just slow? I recently received my first VoxBox compliments of Influenster, filled with Mary Kay products.

Truth be told, I thought I would love all of the items I received in my VoxBox.

Most of the items were awesome. The lip glass, the eye color, the brushes. The translucent powder! Um, amazing. I'm a sweaty person, and it often shows in my face. The translucent powder worked its magic, and I looked great the whole night.

The only problem I really had was the eyeliner. While I wear making to work regularly, I avoid eyeliner at all costs. I can't manage the pencil eyeliners, and this? This was in a small jar, and came complete with a small brush.


How am I supposed to figure that out, when I always mess up the pencil kind, anyway?

I'm making it sound like I hated the box all together. That's not the case at all. I've used the other items rather frequently.

I will admit that the best piece of the MKGlam VoxBox was the lip gloss. It's a perfect shade for summer, and I'm excited to have it at the ready all the time.

The hubs liked the color, too (always a plus).

(Obviously, all opinions are my own. I only publish my honest thoughts and opinions.)

When Things Fall Apart

My dear mother sent me a picture of a view from her childhood home. My beautiful grandma still resides in the home. A home that was once destroyed, and then rebuilt by the hands of my grandfather, great uncle, and 15 year old uncle.

The photo is of where I learned how to swim. The place my cousins and I would make a swimming/dance routines. The place that Boppa wouldn't let us swim until the fish spawning was complete. The place I would host a summertime girls' night, or a quick dip post-tennis.

But then, an island, or something fell apart. It broke off and floated away. Right to Grammy's house.

I guess we'll just have to swim around it!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Vehicle Day

A few weeks ago, my sister and I took the kiddos to Big Vehicle Day at our local shopping center. For those of you in the Twin Cities - we were at Southdale. Apparently, the have a Vehicle Day every year. The drivers of different vehicles arrive at the mall parking lot and set up their rigs in one corner. Macy's provided free water and sugar cookies. There was a trailer for mini donuts in one corner, a port-a-potty in the other. And between all of that? A dump truck. A fire truck. A school bus. A city bus. A zamboni. And everything in between.

I'm already excited for next year. Kid will be a year older, and will (most likely) be even more interested in big trucks!

And the best part? Okay. Two parts.

1. Kid was worn out. Nap time was fabulous that day!

2. This event was FREE!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A First for Kid

My sister asked me to take her family pictures last weekend.

About halfway through the "photo shoot" (you know, because I'm a professional ... ha!), I noticed a certain someone photo-bombing.

What a stinker!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


My husband likes to call us "old retired people." Sometimes, our hobbies match that description perfectly. Like, yesterday. When we spent at least two hours of our day off watching and taking pictures of the birds in our backyard.

We have multiple feeders (and even got a new one yesterday). We have feeders for hummingbirds and oriels, a feeder for finches, and a feeder for all other birds. And the birds have definitely begun to visit. They are so, so beautiful. And so, so interesting.
I can hear my college roommate cringing as she reads this. She is not a fan of birds.

Please enjoy our birdie backyard.

(please excuse the not-so-awesome quality of the pictures - I was shooting through windows that aren't exactly spotless)

Monday, May 12, 2014

::Dinner Plans #17::

Hi, and happy Monday!

How was everyone's Mother's Day? I had a fabulous day yesterday. We spent Saturday evening and Sunday morning up north with my husband's family. Hubs' sister and brother-in-law live in the small town of Mora, MN. We were able to see there house and hang out on their 7 acres of woods. And, upon our return home, we scoured our bodies, Kid's body, and the dog's body for ticks. I. Hate. Ticks. They scare the crud out of me.

We spent a couple hours at home, and then went to my sister's house for a gathering with my family. It was so delightful. They just moved into a new home, so it was fun to see the changes they've made to the home, and hear what my niece had to say about it: "Do you remember my room? It's mine because it's pink, and I love it. Do you want to play Frozen?" She'll be four in July, and is already planning her Frozen party.

But the best part of the weekend? My husband and I took a personal day from work today. And sent Kid to daycare for a couple of hours. It was so nice to hang out at home and get things done without the baby at our feet. Unfortunately, he came home from daycare rather cranky. He signed for milk, but was not a fan of the sippy cup. I'm not sure when we're supposed to get rid of the bottle. We haven't yet. He gets a bottle of milk in the AM, and then one before bed. He continued to sign for milk, so we gave him his bottle early. But, get this. We normally start the bedtime routine at 7:30 and he's asleep by 8.

He's been asleep since 6pm. Tired boy.

I'm a little concerned about the rest of the night, though.

Sunday: pizza with my family. Oh, it was so wonderful.

Monday: we're finally getting around to making a whole chicken in the dutch oven. I used this recipe (it's currently cooking) for the chicken, and sauteed some mushrooms and zucchini on the side.

Tuesday: dinner is usually on our own on Tuesdays. Hubs has a coaching job on Tuesday nights, and I supervise soccer fields. Kid hangs out with my parents.

Wednesday: grilled chili-lime steak. Maybe some peppers on the side, and some marinated vegetables.

Thursday: some form of meatloaf. I haven't decided yet. But I'm planning on making it up. And I'm planning on using my Dutch oven (although, since it is enameled, I think it is technically a French oven). 

Friday: burgers and grilled veggies.

Saturday: my nephew turns one! We will be at his birthday party for dinner.

Okay, I stopped in the middle of this post to finish making dinner, and to enjoy it with my husband. Kid has still been asleep the entire time (I'm kind of shocked!).

Jessica Lynn Writes

Sunday, May 4, 2014

::Dinner Plans #16::

This weekend got a way from me, fast! I cannot believe that it is already nap time on Sunday morning. Kid has been sleeping for an hour and a half, and I have been running around like crazy cleaning the house, folding laundry, getting in a shower, and just relaxing!

I love Sunday.

I don't love that I have 7 posts in my draft folder that need my attention. I need to start scheduling some time each week, away from work and away from home, to blog. I really want to share these posts with you, but I don't want to publish them until they are at their finest.

We had a great weekend. Our local shopping center hosted it's free (yay!) Big Vehicle Day yesterday, and Kid was in heaven! A post on that (full of pictures!) is in the works.

But on to the dinner plans. Last week was a huge success! I loved the sesame beef and broccoli. And the chicken verde lettuce wraps were phenomenal. We had enough leftovers for a couple of days worth of lunch.

Sunday: Today is my grandpa's 85th birthday, so we will be having dinner over there. I'm bringing zuchinni and carrots to grill.

Monday: Chicken Soup. There will be noodles on the side for the hubs, but I plan to add in a lot of vegetables so as to not need noodles.

Tuesday: Take-out. The hubs and I both work late on Tuesdays, and Kid stays with my parents. We'll each grab our own take out. Hubs will probably head for McDonald's. I'll aim for something a little healthier, but it's hard with take out!

Wednesday: Dutch Oven Roasted Chicken. I found a great recipe for chicken from the Pioneer Woman, so I suppose I'll follow that. The best thing about cooking a whole chicken, though, is that you can add whatever seasonings you'd like! We'll have mashed cauliflower on the side, along with a fresh salad or some steamed vegetables.

Thursday: Dinner with the in-laws. Who knows what we will have!?

Friday: Burgers topped with mushrooms and spinach - maybe even some slices of avocado?

Saturday: Pheasant Tortilla Soup. We have some birds to eat, and we're still looking for our go-to pheasant soup recipe.

Jessica Lynn Writes